2017 College Football Playoff National Championship
3rd College Football Playoff National Championship
1234 Total
Clemson 07721 35
Alabama 77107 31
DateJanuary 9, 2017
StadiumRaymond James Stadium
LocationTampa, Florida
MVPOffensive: #4 QB Deshaun Watson, Jr. Clemson
Defensive: #10 LB Ben Boulware, Sr. Clemson
FavoriteAlabama by 6.5
National anthemLittle Big Town
RefereeMike Defee (Big 12)
Halftime showClemson University Tiger Band
Million Dollar Band
United States TV coverage
NetworkESPN and ESPN Radio
AnnouncersChris Fowler (play-by-play)
Kirk Herbstreit (analyst)
Samantha Ponder and Tom Rinaldi (sideline) (ESPN)
Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe and Ian Fitzsimmons (ESPN Radio)
Nielsen ratings15.3 (26.03 million viewers)[1]
International TV coverage
NetworkESPN Deportes
ESPN Deportes Radio
AnnouncersEduardo Varela and Pablo Virugela (ESPN Deportes)
Kenneth Garay and Sebastian M. Christensen (ESPN Deportes Radio)
College Football Playoff National Championship
 < 2016  2018

The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was a bowl game that was used to determine a national champion of college football in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2016 season. The game was played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 9, 2017. It was the culminating game of the 2016–17 bowl season. This was the 3rd year of the playoff era in College Football. [2]

The game was played between the winners of two pre-designated bowl games played on December 31, 2016: the Clemson Tigers, who defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Alabama Crimson Tide, who defeated the Washington Huskies in the Peach Bowl. Having met in the previous year's championship game, the resulting title game between Clemson and Alabama became college football's first rematch between #1 and #2 in national championship game history.[3]

The Tigers won the game 35–31 on a go-ahead touchdown with one second left, having come back from a 14–0 deficit earlier in the game. Watson threw to WR Hunter Renfrow on an out route for the game winner. Clemson quarterback and Heisman Finalist Deshaun Watson set the record for most passing yards in a championship game with 420, breaking his own record of 405 yards set in the 2016 national championship game.[4][5] Deshaun Watson and Ben Boulware were named the Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players, respectively.


The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was played at Raymond James Stadium.
The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was played at Raymond James Stadium.

Competing bids were placed to host the championship game by Tampa, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco, and South Florida. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, was announced as the host site for the third College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship game on December 17, 2013. It became the first CFP championship game to not be held at the site of one of the "New Year's Six" bowls.[6] It also was the first CFP championship game to be played outdoors as Raymond James Stadium does not have a retractable roof. This championship game is part of the third annual CFP, constituted by four teams playing to decide the national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The four teams were originally selected by a 13 member-committee.[7]

2017 College Football Playoff

Semifinals 2017 Championship Game
December 31 – Peach Bowl
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
  1   Alabama 24  
  4   Washington 7   January 9 – Championship
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
      1   Alabama 31
December 31 – Fiesta Bowl
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale
    2   Clemson 35
  2   Clemson 31
  3   Ohio State 0  


The championship game was a rematch of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, where Alabama defeated Clemson, 45–40.[8][9] Overall, the championship game marked the 17th meeting between the two schools; however, prior to the previous championship game, the programs had only met once in the regular season since 1975.[10]


See also: 2016 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

Alabama was led by head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide were undefeated in the regular season and played the Washington Huskies in the 2016 Peach Bowl, winning 24–7.

Alabama's defense was ranked first in the nation in points allowed (11.8) and yards per game (248). The defense was led by defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who had six interceptions and 62 total tackles.[11]

Jalen Hurts attempted to become the first true freshman quarterback since 1985 and only the second ever to win the National Championship.[12]

Alabama had four AP First-Team All-Americans on its roster and entered the game as a 6.5-point favorite over Clemson.[13]


See also: 2016 Clemson Tigers football team

Clemson was led by head coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers entered the game with a 13–1 record, with their only loss being to Pittsburgh. Clemson played the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl and won, 31–0.

On offense, the Tigers were led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw for 4,173 yards, 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on the season. Watson was also Clemson's second-leading rusher, rushing for 586 yards and 8 touchdowns.[11]

Clemson had two Associated Press Second-Team All-Americans and three AP Third-Team All-Americans.[14] Clemson's cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and defensive end Christian Wilkins were First-team All-Americans with USA Today and the Football Writers Association (FWAA), respectively.[15]

Starting lineups

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney
Alabama Position Clemson
Calvin Ridley 1 WR Artavis Scott
Gehrig Dieter WR Mike Williams 1
Cam Robinson 2 LT Mitch Hyatt
Ross Pierschbacher 5 LG Taylor Hearn
Bradley Bozeman 6 C Jay Guillermo
Korren Kirven RG Tyrone Crowder Jr.
Jonah Williams 1 RT Sean Pollard
O. J. Howard 1 TE Jordan Leggett 5
ArDarius Stewart 3 WR Hunter Renfrow 5
Jalen Hurts 2 QB Deshaun Watson 1
Bo Scarbrough 7 RB Wayne Gallman 4
Jonathan Allen 1 DE Christian Wilkins 1
Daron Payne 1 NG DT Carlos Watkins 4
Dalvin Tomlinson 2 DE DT Dexter Lawrence 1
Tony Brown DB DE Clelin Ferrell 1
Ryan Anderson 2 SLB Dorian O'Daniel 3
Rashaan Evans 1 MLB Kendall Joseph
Reuben Foster 1 WLB Ben Boulware
Anthony Averett 4 CB Cordrea Tankersley 3
Marlon Humphrey 1 CB Ryan Carter
Minkah Fitzpatrick 1 SS Jadar Johnson
Ronnie Harrison 3 FS Van Smith
† = 2016 All-American
Selected in an NFL Draft
(number corresponds to draft round)

Source: [16]

Game summary

1 2 3 4 Total
#2 Clemson 0 7 7 21 35
#1 Alabama 7 7 10 7 31

Alabama opened the game with a three-and-out, and Clemson failed to capitalize, turning the ball over on downs after failing to convert a 4th & 1. On Alabama's ensuing drive, Bo Scarbrough opened the game's scoring with a 25-yard rushing touchdown. The first quarter ended with Alabama leading Clemson, 7–0.[17] Scarbrough scored again in the second quarter, on a 37-yard rush to increase Alabama's lead to 14–0.[17] Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson scored the Tigers' first touchdown of the game on an eight–yard run with six minutes left in the second quarter. The game went to halftime with Alabama leading, 14–7.

The Tigers turned the ball over on their first drive in the second half; their fumble was recovered by Ryan Anderson and returned to Clemson's 16 yard line – the Tide increased their lead to 10 after converting a 27-yard field goal. Clemson cut the lead to three with seven minutes left in the third quarter after Watson found Hunter Renfrow over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown pass.[18] After an injury to Scarbrough, the Tide came out and scored on a 68-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to O. J. Howard on the next play; this put Alabama back up by ten points with 1:53 left in the third quarter, which ended with Alabama leading Clemson, 24–14. Clemson scored just three plays into the final quarter as Watson threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams; this cut the lead down to 24–21.[19] With 4:38 to go in the game, Clemson took their first lead in the game after Wayne Gallman scored on a one-yard touchdown rush; Alabama got the ball back on their own 32 yard line with 4:38 remaining in the game.[20] The drive came to a 3rd & 16, on which Jalen Hurts found ArDarius Stewart for a 15-yard pass to set up a 4th & 1, which the Tide converted via a Damien Harris 5-yard rush. Hurts found the end zone on a 30-yard rush just a few plays later to give Alabama the lead back, 31–28.[21]

Clemson took possession of the ball with 2:01 on the clock and the ball on their own 36 yard line. After another long catch by Mike Williams, the drive came to a 3rd & 3 on the Alabama 32 yard line, which was converted on a pass to Renfrow to the Alabama 26 yard line with 0:19 left. The next play saw Watson find Jordan Leggett on a pass down to the Tide 9 yard line with 0:14 left. Watson threw to the end zone on 1st & goal; the pass was overthrown and the clock stopped with 0:09. On 2nd & goal, Watson targeted Mike Williams, who was tripped in the end zone. The resulting pass interference call gave the Tigers 1st & goal with the ball placed on the 2-yard line with 0:06 left. On the next play, Watson threw a touchdown pass to Renfrow with 0:01 left; putting Clemson back in the lead, 35–31.[22] After Clemson recovered an onside kick attempting to run out the clock, the game ended with a kneel-down and Clemson won the National Championship Game.[23]

Watson, who went 36-for-56 (64%) on pass attempts for 420 yards with three passing touchdowns, and ran for 43 yards and one rushing touchdown, was named the game's Offensive Most Valuable Player. Ben Boulware, who recorded six tackles, including one for loss of yards, was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player.[24]

Scoring summary

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP Clemson Alabama
1 9:23 3 59 0:58 Alabama Bo Scarbrough 25-yard touchdown run, Adam Griffith kick good 0 7
2 10:42 5 74 1:24 Alabama Bo Scarbrough 37-yard touchdown run, Adam Griffith kick good 0 14
2 6:09 7 87 1:33 Clemson Deshaun Watson 8-yard touchdown run, Greg Huegel kick good 7 14
3 12:25 4 7 1:29 Alabama 27-yard field goal by Adam Griffith 7 17
3 7:10 4 42 1:03 Clemson Hunter Renfrow 24-yard touchdown reception from Deshaun Watson, Greg Huegel kick good 14 17
3 1:53 4 79 1:01 Alabama O. J. Howard 68-yard touchdown reception from Jalen Hurts, Adam Griffith kick good 14 24
4 14:00 9 72 2:47 Clemson Mike Williams 4-yard touchdown reception from Deshaun Watson, Greg Huegel kick good 21 24
4 4:38 6 88 1:55 Clemson Wayne Gallman 1-yard touchdown run, Greg Huegel kick good 28 24
4 2:07 6 68 2:31 Alabama Jalen Hurts 30-yard touchdown run, Adam Griffith kick good 28 31
4 0:01 9 68 2:00 Clemson Hunter Renfrow 2-yard touchdown reception from Deshaun Watson, Greg Huegel kick good 35 31
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 35 31



Statistics Clemson Alabama
First Downs 31 16
Plays-yards 99–511 66–376
Third down efficiency 7–18 2–15
Rushes-yards 42–91 34–221
Passing yards 420 155
Passing, Comp-Att-Int 36–57–0 14–32–0
Time of Possession 34:44 25:16
Source: [1]
Team Category Player Statistics
Passing Deshaun Watson 36/56, 420 yds, 3 TD
Rushing Wayne Gallman 18 car, 46 yds, 1 TD
Receiving Hunter Renfrow 10 rec, 92 yds, 2 TD
Passing Jalen Hurts 13/31, 131 yds, 1 TD
Rushing Bo Scarbrough 16 car, 93 yds, 2 TD
Receiving O. J. Howard 4 rec, 106 yds, 1 TD
Source: [2]


The game was broadcast in the United States by ESPN, ESPN Deportes (Spanish), and ESPN Radio. In Brazil, the game was broadcast on ESPN Brazil by Everaldo Marques (play by play) and Antony Curti (color commentator). As in past years, ESPN provided Megacast coverage of the game, which supplemented coverage with analysis and additional perspectives of the game on different ESPN channels and platforms.[27] A 30-second commercial cost up to $1 million to air.[14]

The game had a total of 26.03 million viewers,[28] and earned a 15.3 overnight Nielsen rating, a 4% increase from the 2016 championship game. ESPN reported that the game set records in online streaming with a 710,000 average audience, 2.41 million unique viewers, and 182.5 million overall minutes watched. However, according to USA Today "the combined overnight rating fell well short of the record for a College Football Playoff title." This became the third-highest watched game by streaming on ESPN, after two games from the FIFA World Cup.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "TV ratings dip for college football championship on ESPN; streaming up". www.chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. January 10, 2017. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  2. ^ Patterson, Chip (January 10, 2017). "Alabama vs. Clemson final score, highlights: Tigers win 2017 national championship". cbssports.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2017.
  3. ^ Johnson, Richard. "Bama-Clemson is college football's first-ever true title rematch". SBNation.com. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  4. ^ Hutchins, Andy. "How Deshaun Watson became a superstar". SBNation.com. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  5. ^ Paine, Neil (January 10, 2017). "Deshaun Watson And Clemson Made History Against Alabama". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  6. ^ English, Antonya; Jamison, Peter (December 16, 2013). "Tampa to host 2017 college football national championship". Tampa Bay Times. Tampa, Florida: Times Publishing Company. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  7. ^ "Meet the College Football Playoff Selection Committee". USA Today. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  8. ^ "Alabama beats Clemson 45–40 to win national championship". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  9. ^ "Alabama, Clemson square off in national championship rematch". CNN. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Connelly, Bill. "Bama vs. Clemson changed both programs last time". SBNation.com. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  11. ^ a b College football playoff: Alabama vs. Clemson preview, how to watch, game time for national championship. NCAA.com. January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  12. ^ Kirshner, Alex. "Hurts: Second-ever true freshman national champ QB?". SBNation.com. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  13. ^ "National championship, Alabama vs. Clemson predictions, picks, spread, line". Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Badenhausen, Kurt. "College Football National Championship: Alabama Vs. Clemson By The Numbers". Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  15. ^ "Clemson has 6 named to All-American Teams". CBSSports.com. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  16. ^ "CFP National Championship Game Book" (PDF). January 9, 2017. p. 5. Retrieved January 20, 2019 – via rolltide.com.
  17. ^ a b Zimanek, Brad (January 10, 2017). "Alabama's offensive deficiencies drag Tide down". Montgomery Advertiser. Tampa, Florida: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  18. ^ Keepfer, Scott (January 10, 2017). "Hunter Renfrow continues his playoff prowess". The Greenville News. Tampa, Florida: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  19. ^ Borden, Sam (January 10, 2017). "Clemson Upsets Alabama to Win the College Football Championship". The New York Times. Tampa, Florida. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  20. ^ Bonnell, Rick (January 10, 2017). "Clemson rides a frantic 4th quarter to national championship". The Charlotte Observer. Tampa, Florida: The McClatchy Company. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  21. ^ Hurt, Cecil (January 10, 2017). "Alabama can't complete perfect season". The Tuscaloosa News. Tampa, Florida: GateHouse Media. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  22. ^ Auerbach, Nicole (January 10, 2017). "Clemson gets revenge vs. Alabama to win national championship". USA Today. Tampa, Florida: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  23. ^ Russo, Ralph (January 10, 2017). "Watson and Clemson dethrone top-ranked Tide, 35–31". Associated Press. Tampa, Florida: AP Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  24. ^ Clements, Ron (January 10, 2017). "Clemson follows MVPs Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware to national title". SportingNews.com. Sporting News. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  25. ^ "StatMonitr Stat Feed". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  26. ^ "ESPN Game Summary – Clemson vs Alabama". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  27. ^ "2017 College Football Playoff Championship Megacast: What's on each ESPN network". SB Nation. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  28. ^ Barrabi, Thomas (January 10, 2017). "Alabama-Clemson Football: Thrilling Upset, But TV Ratings Sink". Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  29. ^ "Clemson-Alabama title game ratings better than last year, but far off record". Retrieved January 11, 2017.